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Soviet Show Trials Right Here in America

I am deeply disturbed by the Obama administration’s decision to try the 9-11 terrorists in civilian courts, whether in New York City or anywhere else.

My jaw dropped when Holder and Obama began offering their justifications.  They clearly thought that they were being reassuring but they made it much worse.  For example, in response to the argument that going through the civilian courts… you know, giving the terrorists status under the Constitution of the United States… meant leaving open such possibilities that these terrorists could get parole or even declared innocent, it was replied, essentially, “Not to worry, there is no chance that a guilty verdict won’t be returned.”

Oh?  Then why have the trial at all?  If you can assure us of a guilty verdict before the trial itself how is this not actually a show trial?

There are any number of tweaks to the system that will have to be made in order to have a fair trial under the Constitution.  For example, how are we to provide the accused a fair jury of their peers?  Do we need to import people from Saudi Arabia, Pakistan, and Afghanistan to find men like the accused?  Also, wouldn’t a change of venue be in order?  If I was the defense attorney I’d ask for one, and since I wouldn’t expect anyone in America (excepting those who write for the Huffington Post, but again, they aren’t rabid Islamicists, so not exactly peers) to feel less than outrage over the attacks, I would ask for the trial to be moved to Europe, or Pakistan or failing this, back to Gitmo.

Now we note, in passing, that these men haven’t had their Miranda rights read to them.

Today I heard Obama arguing that we have had terrorists go through the criminal justice system before and bemoaning the ‘partisanship’ of those who have any objections.

If insisting that trials be free, fair, and impartial makes me partisan, then so be it.

In the race to be more civilized before the world by eschewing those horrid military tribunals, Obama seems hellbent on engaging in the same sort of ‘civilized’ fashion of the Soviets and any other tyrannical government putting on trials.  It is a disgrace and unAmerican.  Anyone who advocates for a show trial, even if they don’t give it that name, ought to be impeached.  A rose by any other name is still a rose.

I here leave aside all the concerns that can be raised about chain of evidence or the potential release of national security secrets concerning methodology, sources, etc, or the possible dropping of charges rather than have such a horror (or revise them weirdly, as in the case of Jose Padilla).

We have military tribunals for a reason.  They are tested by time, and the Supreme Court has said that they are certainly applicable in the case of these terrorists.

But there is something, apparently, that makes them abhorrent to Holder and Obama;  so much so, that they’d rather have a show trial.

Despicable.

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49 Responses to Soviet Show Trials Right Here in America

  1. At first I thought, “Bring ’em back here to NYC and make them face the city they attacked..” (kinda like rubbing their nose in it)..

    Until I learned more about the process- civil vs. military. I found out, too, that the latter is less cost.

    Kathy

  2. Obama’s answer addressed the concern that the defendants might get off if they were tried in civilian court, and suggested that anything other than a guilty verdict is impossible. Your reaction to Obama’s reassurance is puzzling: if you think the accused-terrorists should be tried in military tribunals *because*, unlike in civilian courts, anything other than a guilty verdict is impossible, then your only concern is with the result.

    Hence you cannot consistently hold, on one hand, that trying the accused in civilian cts is a bad idea because they might get off, but hold, on the other, that trying them in civilian cts knowing they will not get off is a bad idea. You think the former proposal objectionable because a guilty verdict is not guaranteed, but find fault with the latter because a guilty verdict is guaranteed. This is incoherent.

    But if your main concern is with having a fair trial, then Obama’s answer is possibly disturbing, but no more so than the attitude of his detractors who want military tribunals to ensure a conviction — they want a \show trial\ without the show. Trying the alleged terrorists in military tribunals to ensure their conviction is no less abhorrent than trying them in civilian courts to ensure the same result.

    However, one can easily understand Obama’s statement in a way that does not imply what you suggest. Almost certainly, Obama’s team of lawyers looked at the evidence (and all the possible procedural and substantive arguments for the defense) and concluded that the case against the accused is a slam dunk. Thus his statement should be understood to be suggesting the strength of the prosecution’s case (i.e. invincible), which doesn’t sound alarming at all. Quite the opposite, in fact.

  3. Thanks for your comment, Mark.

    Your eyes seem to have skidded past one of my closing lines: “We have military tribunals for a reason.” You will note that I didn’t provide those reasons. Much or your post is an exercise in mind reading, thinking you know those reasons- which of course, aren’t my reasons, but rather the reasons we have traditionally used military tribunals. My post, in contrast, was about my reasons we shouldn’t use the civilian courts, and I note that you didn’t address those, only contrasted them against what you thought I would say about military tribunals.

    So, you didn’t speak to the problem of having a jury of your peers, no ability to have a meaningful change of venue, and no reading of Miranda rights. No Obama assurance that the evidence is sufficient can offset these procedural problems, and if one insists on giving foreign terrorists the full rights, protections, and privileges of the Constitution, these procedures must be followed… and if all the evidence in the world is in hand but the rights of the accused were abused in the gathering, according to Constitutional law, they go free.

    I will refer again, without comment, to issues concerning the chain of evidence, and the value of evidence obtained under putative torture (none, in a civil trial).

    A fair trial from a civilian trial point of view is different than a fair trial from a military tribunal point of view. In the civilian trial there is a presumption of innocence- not so, in a military tribunal. In the civilian trial there is a right to a jury of one’s peer- not so, in a military tribunal. In the civilian trial one can seek a change of venue- not so in a military tribunal. So on and so forth.

    I am not contending that a military tribunal will ensure a conviction and that is why they are preferred. For you to have come to that conclusion means that you have entirely missed the point.

    If you’re going to give people rights under the Constitution than you’ve got to do it whole hog, or otherwise it is a mockery of the whole process. If, according to the civilian process the verdict is 10 years, we can be sure that if people like Obama were in charge, at that point, they wouldn’t simply release the person into the general population- which the civilian process would demand. No, they will swoop in and incarcerate him further until they find somewhere to put him- thus showing that in practice, the whole ‘civilian’ process was a charade, all along.

    My point very simply is that this is an abuse and mockery of the Constitution of the United States because there is no way that the men can be tried- fairly and consistently- under that Constitution.

    We have military tribunals for a reason: foreigners are not Americans, when a foreigner wages war against America, than he is treated as such. He can receive a fair trial under a military tribunal, but the standards of fairness are different, and take into account the realities of the world.

    Obama is engaged in a ‘feel good’ exercise, operating outside the bounds of reality, pursuing a form of justice that can only result in a gross miscarriage of justice, no matter what happens.

  4. BTW, remember that even Tim McVeigh asked for, and received, a change of venue. His trial was moved away from OK for obvious reasons in order to ensure a fair trial under the Constitution. A trial in NYC would be in defiance of those same obvious reasons- but where exactly would the trial go in a change of venue? Where could they go to ensure that the jury was not filled with people outraged and deeply touched in some way by the 9-11 attacks? Not very many places in America will qualify, just as there would have been no place in America to try those involved in the Pearl Harbor attack.

    This is the real world, not some fairy tale land where you can stick people willy nilly into a system they don’t belong and then pat yourself on the back for being oh-so-superior to previous administrations.

  5. The main point of your post is that if terrorist suspects are to be tried in civilian court, they should be tried fairly – not be put on a “show trial” like what Obama wants. But there is simply no good reason to think Obama was advocating anything of the sort: more reasonably, he was indicating the strength of the prosecution’s case (i.e. a guilty verdict is a slam dunk).

    Again, as I indicated, it’s almost certain that Obama’s team of lawyers looked at the evidence, as well as the possible *procedural* arguments for the defense, and concluded that the case against the suspects is a winner. If they do not find your procedural concerns to be a problem, then they likely won’t be. The simple fact is: many many lawyers do not think giving these suspects a fair trial in civilian courts is a problem.

  6. First of all, I think it unlikely that Obama is aware he is putting on a ‘show trial.’

    Second of all, the main point of the post is not simply that they should be tried fairly. That is not what I said. What I said was: “There are any number of tweaks to the system that will have to be made in order to have a fair trial under the Constitution.”

    That little phrase, ‘under the Constitution’ is important, and I do hope that you won’t overlook it a third time.

    I don’t at all doubt that that Obama’s team of lawyers have determined that procedural arguments will not stand in the way of them obtaining a guilty verdict. I expect that they have already decided that they will dispense with concerns about civil liberties… things like Miranda Rights, Jury of one’s peers, a fair venue, and if per chance through some wild twist they are released (the CIA told Bush the evidence against Iraq was a *slam dunk*, too 😉 ), they will be scooped up off the streets and thrown back into a military prison.

    You seem to be laboring under the illusion that my main concern is that they may go free. I am quite certain they won’t, and that is precisely my objection!

    The only way they can *fairly* not ever be released into the general population is to try them in a military tribunal. If a military trib finds them innocent, I’m perfectly ok with that… but send them back to their home countries.

    Here is another simple fact: many lawyers also think that they can’t. Good thing we don’t have to defer to the judgment of lawyers!

  7. You don’t seem to understand the difference between rigging the outcome of a trial and predicting that a particular outcome, because of the evidence and arguments, is virtually certain. The latter is not a show trial, and your claim that Obama is putting one on confuses these two very different notions.

    I did not “overlook” the phrase “fair trial under the constitution”; a fair trial in US civilian courts is, by definition, one that is fair under the constitution. Again, many lawyers and legal scholars do not think there’s any real legal problem in trying the suspected terrorists “fairly” in civilian courts. Perhaps you should consider why they think this before boldly declaring outright that that can’t happen.

    Anyway, my main point was in regards to your “show trial” claim. There is absolutely no reason to think Obama is advocating anything of the sort based on the statement you quoted.

  8. Mark, you’re just wrong. Not only in your analysis, but in what you think my argument is.

    This is illustrated in your first paragraph. I certainly do understand the difference between those ‘two very different notions.’ Let us suppose for a moment that they ‘predicted’ wrong, and KSM is ordered released on a technicality- these things happen, right?- do you mean to tell me with a straight face that the Obama admin will let him go?

    You are insane if you think this. And do we then think it will have been a fair process when we swoop in off the street to pick him up and put him back in prison?

    Please speak to this, because if the trial is genuinely fair, this is a real possibility, no?

    Now, you’re right about what a ‘fair trial under the constitution’ is but let us remember why you were harping on it in your first reply. For example, you said,

    “Trying the alleged terrorists in military tribunals to ensure their conviction is no less abhorrent than trying them in civilian courts to ensure the same result.”

    You see, you are equivocating, behaving as though my seeking a ‘fair trial’ in a military tribunal would give rise to the same accusation I’m making against a ‘fair trial’ in a civilian court. It wouldn’t, because the ‘definition’ of fairness is different in the two scenarios.

    Question: do you believe that under current Constitutional law an accused criminal should have his Miranda rights read to him when arrested?

  9. Please stick to the issue, which is whether Obama is advocating a “show trial.” I have no opinion regarding your last question.

    You say you understand the difference between rigging the outcome of a trial and predicting that a particular outcome, because of the evidence and arguments, is virtually certain, and yet, you offer no evidence that Obama’s statement meant the former.

    Supposing Obama’s prediction is wrong, it is simply irrelevant what he will or won’t do to the suspects. If they get off but he refuses to let them go, it doesn’t follow in the slightest that they haven’t received a fair trial. The trial itself – which, in your hypothetical, is beyond Obama’s control – would still not be a show trial. In any case, your speculation about what Obama will or won’t do if the unexpected happens is just that – speculation. Obama may not have a choice in the matter.

    Again, there is simply no reason to interpret Obama’s statement in the way you do: that a conviction is ensured because the trial will be rigged.

  10. “A rose by any other name is still a rose.”

  11. No doubt. But there’s no reason whatsoever to think Obama meant what you said.

  12. We’ll never know, since you refuse to address the substance of my statements. You show indifference to addressing any of the particulars: if a person is to be tried as though they are a citizen of the United States, enjoying all of the privileges and immunities of its Constitution, should they:

    Have their Miranda rights read to them?
    Do they have a right to a jury of their peers?
    Can they request and obtain a meaningful change of venue?
    Must evidence used in such a trial be obtained through a careful chain of custody?
    Must incriminatory evidence derived from improper collection (ie, through torture, or some other violation of due process) be thrown out?
    Should there be a presumption of innocence?

    These are all questions that the Obama administration must have looked at and determined… “No, they didn’t need their rights read to them, yes, we can avoid the fact that they’ve been tortured [according to them], no, they don’t deserve a jury of their peers,… we can weasel our way out of all of these and can assure the American public that we can obtain justice…” Yes, perhaps, but not without significant ‘tweaking.’

    But you refuse to address any of these particulars which go to the heart of a ‘fair trial under the Constitution’ so clearly it is impossible to speak to the question of whether or not it is actually possible.

    I assume from your refusal to speak to the question of Miranda Rights that in fact your answer is, “Yes, accused criminals should be read their rights, but I refuse to say that aloud because than I’ll have to explain why KSM is an exception.”

  13. My answers to your questions are irrelevant, and you should not “assume” from my refusal to answer anything. The issue is with your claim about Obama rigging the trials.

    You further confuse the issue when you equate “show trials” (i.e. rigged trials) with unfair trials — the two are not equivalent. There have been many unfair trials in the U.S. that were not “show trials”; mistakes often happen and are corrected on appeal. A “Soviet show trial”, on the other hand, is one that is rigged from the outset. How you can compare “Soviet show trials” to what Obama and others have in mind is, as you put it, “despicable.” Unless you have evidence to back up your remarkable, inflammatory accusation, you should think about tempering your declarations with some modesty.

    Perhaps it’s a fair question whether the suspected terrorists could really get a fair, constitutional trial in civilian courts. Many legal scholars (a majority, if I’m not mistaken) believe they can, and there’s certainly no evidence to think Obama believes otherwise. What you don’t seem to understand is the fundamental difference between Obama being honestly mistaken and Obama advocating a “Soviet show trial” — the two are not even in the same universe.

    Again, the issue is not whether the suspected terrorists can receive a constitutionally fair trial, but whether Obama wants to put on a “Soviet show trial.” I refuse to address your questions because they simply don’t speak to the latter issue.

  14. Well, I didn’t say anything about Obama ‘rigging’ the trial. Fair enough, the Soviets rigged their trials, but that is not the only sense in which their trials were ‘show trials,’ either. You also shouldn’t assume that the aspect of those ‘show trials’ I am focusing on is the rigging. I have been pretty clear about in what sense I believe these are ‘show trials,’ not because they are ‘rigged’ but because they are being put on simply for…, well, show.

    You seem to think that if the men are released but then immediately re-arrested and thrown back in prison that this doesn’t diminish the fact that the original trial was ‘fair.’ This is missing the point. Such an event would show that the outcome of the trial was irrelevant, but not because the trial was rigged.

    However, you concede that “it’s a fair question whether the suspected terrorists could really get a fair, constitutional trial in civilian courts” which really goes to the heart of the original post. I have rattled off a number of particulars that would have to be ‘tweaked’ to say the least in order for a conviction to be returned. You keep appealing to these lawyers and legal scholars (without actually providing any documentation or examples) while avoiding addressing those particulars.

    The way I see it, everyone in the country knows that some how, some way, these men are going to spend the rest of their lives behind bars in an American jail. The question is: will Obama get away with trying to wear the constitution like a superhero’s cape while simultaneously and inevitably trampling on it? It sure looks like it.

    There is no way anyone is going to release these people onto American streets. Do you deny?

  15. You didn’t have to say anything about Obama rigging or advocating the rigging of the trials: it was implicit in the very concept of a “Soviet show trial.” A show trial is one where the outcome is *determined* beforehand, and you unequivocally suggested this is what Obama had in mind (“If you can assure us of a guilty verdict before the trial itself how is this not actually a show trial”).

    To now claim that by “show trials” you only meant “trials being put on for show,” and not “trials where the outcome is determined before hand,” is just disingenuous and false. In a previous comment you indicated, “I am quite certain they won’t [go free], and that is precisely my objection!”

    So if you’re going to suggest Obama seeks to ensure a conviction by “engaging in the same sort of ‘civilized’ fashion of the Soviets,” then own up to what you really said: that Obama seeks to ensure a conviction through rigging. There’s no other way to interpret your “Soviet Show Trial” claim.

    You wrote:
    “You seem to think that if the men are released but then immediately re-arrested and thrown back in prison that this doesn’t diminish the fact that the original trial was ‘fair.’ This is missing the point. Such an event would show that the outcome of the trial was irrelevant, but not because the trial was rigged.”

    No doubt the outcome of the trial is irrelevant if that were to happen. But that wouldn’t make the trial itself a “Soviet show trial,” and there’s no reason to think Obama would – or has the power to – throw them back into prison should they be ordered released.

    You wrote:
    “However, you concede that “it’s a fair question whether the suspected terrorists could really get a fair, constitutional trial in civilian courts” which really goes to the heart of the original post.”

    Two things. First, I conceded nothing of the sort; I said “perhaps it’s a fair question.” Second, even if your original post was really about whether the suspected terrorists could get a fair trial in civilian cts, that doesn’t change the fact that your unwarranted “Soviet Show Trial” accusation (the title of your post!) is outrageously inflammatory. As I indicated, there’s a world of difference between Obama being honestly mistaken about the constitutionality of trying the suspected terrorists in civilian cts and Obama advocating a “Soviet show trial.” Why can’t you see this difference? Again, the question of whether Obama *really* is mistaken is neither here nor there.

    There’s no reason to address your last question because it is irrelevant. In any case, if they won’t be released onto America streets, that doesn’t mean they won’t be released elsewhere.

  16. “You didn’t have to say anything about Obama rigging or advocating the rigging of the trials: it was implicit in the very concept of a “Soviet show trial.””

    Nonsense. You are being ridiculous. It is what you thought about when you heard ‘Soviet show trial’ perhaps but that doesn’t mean that is the only concept. Soviet ‘show trials’ were very certainly ‘rigged’ but what made them ‘show trials’ was not that they were rigged but that they were held anyway in order to present the image that they were being fair and just, in contrast to the perceptions and accusations of the world. Hmmm. That sounds very much like the motives of the Obama administration.

    “To now claim that by “show trials” you only meant “trials being put on for show,””

    I’m sorry, the idea that a show trial is a trial being put on for a show sounds like a tautology to me. You are being positively ridiculous.

    I suppose now that a fair trial, on the other hand, is not a trial that is fair? Where will this lunacy end?

    “There’s no other way to interpret your “Soviet Show Trial” claim.”

    Nonsense. There is another way to interpret, as I have already done. You are not the final arbiter- whoever you are- on what is meant by a ‘show trial’ and as I am the one who used the term I am certainly permitted to explain in what sense I meant it. So long as my explanation is consistent with the original post, I am doing nothing shady.

    The real truth here is that you have misunderstood me from the beginning and you refuse to admit as much.

    “No doubt the outcome of the trial is irrelevant if that were to happen. But that wouldn’t make the trial itself a “Soviet show trial,””

    I beg to differ. I think it shows that it very much was only for show.

    “There’s no reason to address your last question because it is irrelevant”

    lol, of course it’s relevant! You really think that you can say that the trial can be fair while not examining the very things that would make it fair?

    You’re not a professor in the state of Washington, are you? That would explain a lot.

    “In any case, if they won’t be released onto America streets, that doesn’t mean they won’t be released elsewhere.”

    If they are not released onto American streets after having been tried in an American court, then the trial was just for ‘show.’ I already said that I was open to the idea that they could be released elsewhere- which would be justified if a fair military trial determined they were not guilty of what they were accused of.

  17. Once again, a “Soviet show trial” is not merely a trial “put on simply for show,” as you put it, but one whose outcome has been predetermined beforehand. You even recognize this definition when you said, “If you can assure us of a guilty verdict before the trial itself how is this not actually a show trial?”, and thus your explanation is blatantly inconsistent with your original post.

    In your original post, you expressed concern over Obama’s statement that “there is no chance that a guilty verdict won’t be returned.” Obviously, you didn’t interpret his statement to mean, “the suspected terrorists will be found guilty b/c the prosecution’s case is invincible,” which is a perfectly benign and unproblematic statement to make. There’s nothing disgraceful or un-American about it. Instead, you thought Obama meant something more sinister: “they will be found guilty b/c we will ensure a guilty verdict no matter what.” There is just no other sensible way to interpret your “Soviet Trial Claim.”

    If you found Obama’s statement disturbing, was it because you thought Obama was suggesting the former or the latter? Obviously the former, which implies rigging.

    You wrote: “lol, of course it’s relevant! You really think that you can say that the trial can be fair while not examining the very things that would make it fair?”

    Again, you fail to see the distinction between unfair trials and “Soviet Show trials,” and the difference between Obama being honestly mistaken about the constitutionality of trying suspected terrorists in civilian courts and Obama advocating “Soviet Show Trials.” The issue here is not whether the trials would be “fair,” but whether Obama was advocating “Soviet Show trials.” To suppose the latter, as you do, is to suppose Obama would seek to ensure a guilty verdict through rigging.

    “If they are not released onto American streets after having been tried in an American court, then the trial was just for ’show.’”

    This doesn’t follow at all. If the suspected terrorists are let off and *released*, then they won’t be sent back to prison, contrary to what you’ve been claiming. It makes no difference whether they are released here in America or elsewhere – so long as they’re released after they’ve been ordered to, the trials would not be “Soviet Show Trials.”

  18. Slight correction. If you found Obama’s statement disturbing, was it because you thought Obama was suggesting the former or the latter? Obviously the *later*, which implies rigging.

  19. I believe you now understand how ridiculous the substance of your claim is. It may be too hopeful to expect a concession from you, but I expect you’ll be more reluctant to make such unfounded, ill-thought out accusations in the future.

  20. Don’t get your hopes up, pal. You have employed the most infantile argumentation I’ve ever seen, based pretty much on your failure to engage in basic literary analysis. I won’t speculate as to the source of this failure. There are many reasons, some innocent, and others not.

    I figure that I wasn’t going to get a concession out of you but I do believe that you now understand how ridiculous the substance of your objections are.

    And as for reluctance in posting in the future… you truly must be a child…

    In closing, I note that you have never bothered to substantiate your claim that ‘many lawyers think…’ I mention this because you are probably clueless as to why I find your argumentation disgraceful so I thought I could at least give you some general direction. At the very least, it is an argument from authority, but you haven’t even bothered to offer any specifics, so on top of this logical fallacy you have added the fallacy of ad nauseum- simply repeating what you have already said without providing reason or rationale for it.

    This is added to my previous complaint that as the author of the post, it is my prerogative to clarify what I really meant. You no doubt belong to the postmodern mindset that believes that the reader is the one who gets to decide what the author really meant.

    In sum, you are an utter waste of my time. If I thought you were arguing in good faith, we’d still be conversing. Alas, if it wasn’t clear before, your latest indicates it would be arguing with a fool. I have high hopes that as you mature you will be worth discoursing with in the future.

    BTW, it sure looks like Obama will be moving the trial out of NYC and a better than even chance that we’ll end up with military tribunals, after all. You should let him know that a great many attorneys are confident that he can receive a fair trial in NYC and this retreat and reversal is not necessary. If only he had you on his staff! Ah well.

    You get the last word, within reason. But I reserve the right to delete it, too. That’s one of the benefits of not being intimidated by your petty words into being ‘reluctant to make such unfounded, ill-thought out accusations.’ I’ll ban you quicker than snot freezes at the north pole.

    Now go away, or I shall taunt you a second time.

  21. The fact is, I explained precisely why your “clarification” is inconsistent with your original post, but you chose to *ignore* my explanation rather than deal with it head on. All you can do now, in an attempt to re-inflate your embarrassed ego, is to retreat with insults and petty, juvenile jabs about my supposed lack of argumentation abilities (classic projection).

    In any case, I shall do as you suggest and “go away”; arguing with imbeciles is no longer fun when they don’t even make the attempt to argue back.

  22. It’s really funny that you think you could in any way diminish my ego. I’m not in the habit of giving unknown posters from NYC any control over my self-estimation.

    We’ll leave it to readers to decide who was being unreasonable here. I, at least, am comfortable enough in my own skin to let lurkers make up their own minds.

    Toodles.

  23. Glad you feel that way.

    To the lurkers: although Anthony has chosen to ignore the following (posted above), he nevertheless claims I’m the one who has failed to engage in “basic literary analysis.” Why is that? (Let’s leave it to the readers to decide, shall we?)

    —————–
    Once again, a “Soviet show trial” is not merely a trial “put on simply for show,” as you put it, but one whose outcome has been predetermined beforehand. You even recognize this definition when you said, “If you can assure us of a guilty verdict before the trial itself how is this not actually a show trial?”, and thus your explanation is blatantly inconsistent with your original post.

    In your original post, you expressed concern over Obama’s statement that “there is no chance that a guilty verdict won’t be returned.” Obviously, you didn’t interpret his statement to mean, “the suspected terrorists will be found guilty b/c the prosecution’s case is invincible,” which is a perfectly benign and unproblematic statement to make. There’s nothing disgraceful or un-American about it. Instead, you thought Obama meant something more sinister: “they will be found guilty b/c we will ensure a guilty verdict no matter what.” There is just no other sensible way to interpret your “Soviet Trial Claim.”

    If you found Obama’s statement disturbing, was it because you thought Obama was suggesting the former or the latter? Obviously the latter, which implies rigging.

    You wrote: “lol, of course it’s relevant! You really think that you can say that the trial can be fair while not examining the very things that would make it fair?”

    Again, you fail to see the distinction between unfair trials and “Soviet Show trials,” and the difference between Obama being honestly mistaken about the constitutionality of trying suspected terrorists in civilian courts and Obama advocating “Soviet Show Trials.” The issue here is not whether the trials would be “fair,” but whether Obama was advocating “Soviet Show trials.” To suppose the latter, as you do, is to suppose Obama would seek to ensure a guilty verdict through rigging.

    “If they are not released onto American streets after having been tried in an American court, then the trial was just for ’show.’”

    This doesn’t follow at all. If the suspected terrorists are let off and *released*, then they won’t be sent back to prison, contrary to what you’ve been claiming. It makes no difference whether they are released here in America or elsewhere – so long as they’re released after they’ve been ordered to, the trials would not be “Soviet Show Trials.”

  24. […] recent series of comments on an article of mine characterizing Obama’s desire to have the KSM …‘ prompted me to ponder one of the claims made in those comments.  I noted what appears to be […]

  25. Dude. Why are you still here? Why do you insist on repeating yourself, yet again? Do you think re-iterating your argument for a third time will make any difference? If you don’t mind leaving it to the lurkers then just leave it to the lurkers. But you’re right. You should probably state your case a fourth time, just in case the first three didn’t take.

    Hey, I was thinking of you. Hereyago: http://sntjohnny.com/front/on-free-will-fair-trials-and-the-problem-of-evil/793.html

  26. I absolutely don’t mind leaving it to the lurkers. I just thought it be helpful to point out to them that the post I quoted went completely ignored. Do you have a problem with me pointing this out? Why do you insist on distracting the reader with useless side comments? Perhaps you don’t want to draw attention to the fact that the post I quoted went completely ignored?

  27. Oh, helpful, I’m sure. In fact, go ahead and point it out to them again, Spencer. I’m sure another 4 paragraph restatement of the same points will be of great assistance to them.

    You can draw attention to my ignoring your post all you like. If anyone wants an explanation it is simply this: by that post I was convinced that you were not arguing in good faith. So, why waste my time? Come on, cutup. We know where this will end. You’ll just keep repeating yourself as though I hadn’t said anything… blah blah blah.

    You could perhaps make progress on changing my mind by the very small and simple step of corroborating your claim that most attorneys think they can get a fair trial under the constitution… that’s not even an argument, it’s just substantiation.

  28. It’s Mark, not Spencer. Your explanation is a poorly-disguised cop-out: how you came to conclude I wasn’t arguing in good faith is something, I’m sure, your readers will like to know (otherwise, you might lend the impression that you’re dismissing me in bad faith).

    As for your last request, it is completely off point. But you can start here: http://www.nybooks.com/articles/15284. A little googling will get you all the info you need.

  29. lol, sure it is.

    If any of my readers would like to know, they can ask. I really have no interest in discoursing with someone who is arguing in bad faith and if you think that’s a cop-out I honestly couldn’t care less.

  30. Your accusation that I’ve been arguing in bad faith is one made in bad faith. The fact is, I took you to task on your ridiculous claim, and now you seek to distance yourself from it anyway you can – even by coping out in bad faith. You match rhetoric against substance and then consider my objection refuted.

  31. When someone argues like a broken record rather than addressing what’s being said is ususally a big clue when someone is not actually interested in having a genuine conversation. Anthony’s original post was pretty clear (to me atleast), and it only become clearer as the arguement carried on about what was meant by ‘Soviet show-trial'(and that was only one element amoung others Anthony brought up). You took umbrage that Obama was being painted in a bad light, tried to defend him, and it all fell flat.

    The fact is this latest bout of politicking is just another mistake amoung others. In Obama’s attempt to appease everyone, it will ultimately please very few and cause more problems than solve them.

  32. If you found Anthony’s original post to be “pretty clear,” then perhaps you can explain how he interpreted Obama’s statement in such a way that it was “disturbing.”

    Obama: “Not to worry, there is no chance that a guilty verdict won’t be returned.”

    Why is this statement disturbing? Does Anthony interpret Obama to be suggesting that the 9/11 trials will be predetermined beforehand, or that a certain outcome is predictable because of the evidence? Which is it?

  33. You mean other than how it’s basicly a show-trial which is a complete contradiction to the ‘innocent-till-proven-guilty’ spirit, the numerous questions of procedural problems in order to have a “fair” trial, and the nonsensicality of operating under Civil rules regarding foreigners? Wait, the question explains itself. I doubt you noticed such details, because at this point it’s obvious you really don’t care.

    As for your umpteenth repeated question -it’s disturbing because the very definition of a “fair trial” means there MUST be a chance for a not guilty verdict. One can’t make it any clearer. The trial is just a pretext to throw them in jail. Ergo it’s a show trial.

  34. Like Anthony, you fail to understand the difference between fixing or rigging the outcome of a trial and making a prediction, based on the strength of the prosecution’s case, as to what the outcome will be. In order words, you (erroneously) believe the following claims are inconsistent:

    1. KSM will get a fair trial.
    2. It is certain that KSM will be found guilty at trial.

    The two are NOT inconsistent: the fact that the prosecution’s case is unbeatable does not mean the defendant will not get a fair trial — hence your fallacy.

  35. Whatever. It was clear none of this was getting through anyway as you harp about “rigging” as if it has an iota of relevance while ignoring the fact that it’s hard to find a jury of peers who don’t already know the accused are guilty. Along with everything else. Talking to a wall is more preductive since eventually the paint will move.

  36. You’re daft. We certainly agree that the two propositions are not inconsistent. The question posed was not only about the inevitable conviction (or at least, incarceration) which you have decided to focus on. I said a great many things going to the issue of how on earth we can possibly suggest KSM will in fact get a fair trial under the constitution. In short, you have tried to distill the argument only to one aspect of the ‘Soviet show trial’, ignoring my point that the Soviet show trial was more than just rigging the verdict, but about going through the process for the sake of appearances.

    You only want to address the second proposition but refuse to engage the first proposition, labeling it as irrelevant. But in fact the substance of my post is a cursory examination of the first proposition, with most of the discussion geared towards that, with only incidental comments geared towards the second.

    To put it in little words: the whole contention is whether or not KSM can get a fair trial. I tried to delve into why I do not think he can and you dismissed the question as irrelevant. Obviously, the integrity of KSM’s guilty verdict depends on him actually getting a fair trial so it is patently relevant. Instead of addressing what is obviously (to a sane person) the proposition under discussing and which the other proposition is contingent upon, you have decided to focus solely on summary of Obama’s response, as though that was the main point of my post, and the main thing I meant by ‘show trial.’ This despite the fact that I explained in plain language precisely what I did mean by ‘show trial.’

    If it is unlikely- or impossible, as I believe- that KSM can get a fair trial, and it is probable (as we both agree) that the AG has already crafted a way he thinks will get around the civil rights abuses, then his prediction that he will be found guilty at trial cannot be construed as a mere prediction. What is the basis for his confidence that we can dispense with Miranda rights, due process, presumed innocence, contaminated chains of evidence and still obtain a conviction?

    In order to arrive at an examination of that point one must first evaluate the first proposition, the one thing, predictably, you refuse to do.

    Which is one more reason why I don’t believe you are Mark, for Spencer was always the one to set himself up as the final arbiter of what was relevant and what was not, what words mean and what they don’t mean- even when other people are using them, and what authorities were to be relied on.

  37. End Bringer,

    I’m trying to have a rational discussion about this with you, and thus – as Anthony would put it – am approaching this discourse in good faith. Why aren’t you?

    At issue here is Obama’s statement which Anthony quoted: both you and he find it “disturbing,” and I want to know why. The only way Obama’s statement is disturbing is if it were understood to mean the following: KSM will certainly be found guilty because that outcome has been predetermined before trial. If this were the case, then Obama *would* be advocating a “Soviet Show Trial” – no question there.

    But that is clearly not what Obama meant – or, at least, there’s no reason to think he was suggesting anything of the sort. Instead, it’s far more reasonable to understand him to be saying: KSM will certainly be convicted because the prosecution’s case is *that* good.

    If you find Obama’s statement is disturbing, then please explain why I should understand Obama to be suggesting the former and not the latter.

  38. All this was mostly clear in the original post and certainly was made clear upon my clarifications. Your refusal to address what were plainly the salient points and insisting on focusing on a minor point, asserting that you knew what I meant more than I did all led me to conclude that you are arguing in bad faith. You don’t want a discussion. You want a recantation. I bet you would burn me at the stake to get one if only you could get away with it.

    You aren’t going to get one. If you were reading even sloppily you would see that I’m really coming to the defense of KSM and his ilk, demanding that if the man is going to be tried as though he were an American citizen then by God he should be accorded all the privileges and immunities that American citizens have coming to them.

    Obama wants to have his cake and eat it too. He wants to show the world that he is more civilized then that evil Bush by granting our enemies constitutional rights when he knows full well that to obtain a conviction he will have to ignore the fact that those rights were trampled from the beginning. He knows this. I know he knows this. He has decided to press on with this travesty against the civil rights of an (apparent) American citizen in an attempt to impress the international community.

    But this all goes back to whether or not the trial can be held and a conviction upheld that respects the (apparent) constitutional rights of KSM et al, which you refuse to discuss, demonstrating that you are a very. bad. faith. discussion partner.

  39. Anthony,

    You are being completely disingenuous when you say: “the whole contention is whether or not KSM can get a fair trial.” That is certainly an important question, but not the focus at issue, nor was it your “whole contention.” In your post, you *accused* Obama of advocating a “Soviet Show Trial,” suggested he should be “impeached” for doing so, and then went on to say he is being “disgraceful,” “un-American” and “despicable.” You based your conclusion off of Obama’s statement about guaranteed guilty verdict.

    Here was your reaction: “Oh? Then why have the trial at all? If you can assure us of a guilty verdict before the trial itself how is this not actually a show trial?”

    Why did you react this way? Were you troubled because you thought Obama was expressing high confidence in the prosecution’s case? That can’t be it, since there would be nothing “disgraceful,” “un-American” or “impeachable” about such a statement. No, you took Obama to be suggesting a “Soviet Show Trial,” that a guilty verdict would be pre-determined beforehand. Why are you unable to admit you made such a foolish, implausible interpretation of Obama’s statement?

    You wrote:
    “I said a great many things going to the issue of how on earth we can possibly suggest KSM will in fact get a fair trial under the constitution. In short, you have tried to distill the argument only to one aspect of the ‘Soviet show trial’, ignoring my point that the Soviet show trial was more than just rigging the verdict, but about going through the process for the sake of appearances.”

    Again, the question of how KSM can get a fair trial under the constitution is distinct from the question of whether Obama was or was not advocating a “Soviet Show Trial.” By titling your post, “Soviet Show Trials Right Here in American,” and then accusing Obama of advocating such trials, you have suggested Obama to be in favor of a sinister plot to rig the legal system to ensure a certain outcome. Such an allegation, without a hint of evidence, is nothing less than “disgraceful” and “despicable.”

    “This despite the fact that I explained in plain language precisely what I did mean by ’show trial.’”

    So long as your meaning does not include the predetermination of the outcome beforehand, it is a distortion of your original post, as I have made clear.

    “If it is unlikely- or impossible, as I believe- that KSM can get a fair trial,”

    Again, so you say, but the scholars and legal experts disagree with you (google them). In any case, that is NOT to the focus of my criticism, which is you on your unwarranted and highly inflammatory accusation. I say again: the question of whether KSM can get a fair trial under the constitution is distinct from the question of whether Obama is in favor of “Soviet Show Trials.”

  40. “Obama wants to have his cake and eat it too. He wants to show the world that he is more civilized then that evil Bush by granting our enemies constitutional rights when he knows full well that to obtain a conviction he will have to ignore the fact that those rights were trampled from the beginning. He knows this. I know he knows this.”

    Here you accuse Obama of *knowing* that KSM cannot get a constitutionally fair trial in civilian court. Why do you suppose Obama “knows” this when many legal scholars profess otherwise? Do *they* know KSM really can’t get a fair trial and are just lying to everyone?

    Think about what you’re suggesting. If Obama was really advocating blatantly unconstitutional trials, here are some of the people who would be “in” on it: the prosecution team, AG and lawyers in the justice department, district judge, appellate judge, and virtually every legal scholar and lawyer in the legal community. Do you really think such public, blatantly unconstitutional trials can happen without a peep of protest from the legal community? Yes or no?

    The fact that the legal community has not risen up in a fit of outrage against these trials is prima facie decisive evidence that Obama – a former constitutional professor – is NOT advocating blatantly unconstitutional trials.

  41. “You want a recantation. I bet you would burn me at the stake to get one if only you could get away with it.”

    This is so classic!

    “But this all goes back to whether or not the trial can be held and a conviction upheld that respects the (apparent) constitutional rights of KSM et al, which you refuse to discuss, demonstrating that you are a very. bad. faith. discussion partner.”

    Again, discussing whether KSM can get a constitutionally fair trial is one thing; suggesting that Obama seeks to predetermine the outcome of that trial (hence a “Soviet Show Trial”) is quite another.

  42. huh, is it me or did you merely simply repeat what you have already repeated over and over again? Once again you insist on being the final arbiter of what I really meant. I have in no place denied that I believe the final result will be the same and in this sense the ending is ‘rigged’ and certainly despicable. But what about the context? This time you say, “The [fairness of the trial] is certainly an important question.” Well, gee, Sherlock, you could certainly say it is an important question, and upon that question all the rest is hinged.

    You have cited three words… impeached, despicable, disgraceful. Why don’t you get out your little calculator and now calculate how much time is spent on the ‘fairness’ issues? For example, what about this whole paragraph:

    There are any number of tweaks to the system that will have to be made in order to have a fair trial under the Constitution. For example, how are we to provide the accused a fair jury of their peers? Do we need to import people from Saudi Arabia, Pakistan, and Afghanistan to find men like the accused? Also, wouldn’t a change of venue be in order? If I was the defense attorney I’d ask for one, and since I wouldn’t expect anyone in America (excepting those who write for the Huffington Post, but again, they aren’t rabid Islamicists, so not exactly peers) to feel less than outrage over the attacks, I would ask for the trial to be moved to Europe, or Pakistan or failing this, back to Gitmo.

    How did this paragraph escape your analysis? I bolded the relevant portions, including what in the old days they called the topic sentence.

    I then make this comment:

    Now we note, in passing, that these men haven’t had their Miranda rights read to them.

    Then comes a paragraph that is not related to either of our points followed by this one:

    If insisting that trials be free, fair, and impartial makes me partisan, then so be it.

    Any fair reading of my post would see that I do scoff at the notion that these men are going to end up anywhere except in a prison but it is the trampling of the process that is bugging me. But I’m not done yet, am I?

    The next paragraph you noticed, but not the one after that which read:

    I here leave aside all the concerns that can be raised about chain of evidence or the potential release of national security secrets concerning methodology, sources, etc, or the possible dropping of charges rather than have such a horror (or revise them weirdly, as in the case of Jose Padilla).

    But you missed all this, didn’t you? Why? Because, Spencer, you’re an arrogant son of a gun who thinks he knows everything, including what I really meant despite what I say I meant.

    So, just on a whim I thought I would really quantify things. I copied the post into Microsoft Word and did a little word count analysis. If you can’t read, maybe you can at least count.

    I have numbered the paragraphs and put at the end of each one the number of words in it.

    1. I am deeply disturbed by the Obama administration’s decision to try the 9-11 terrorists in civilian courts, whether in New York City or anywhere else. – 25
    2. My jaw dropped when Holder and Obama began offering their justifications. They clearly thought that they were being reassuring but they made it much worse. For example, in response to the argument that going through the civilian courts… you know, giving the terrorists status under the Constitution of the United States… meant leaving open such possibilities that these terrorists could get parole or even declared innocent, it was replied, essentially, “Not to worry, there is no chance that a guilty verdict won’t be returned.” – 84
    3. Oh? Then why have the trial at all? If you can assure us of a guilty verdict before the trial itself how is this not actually a show trial? – 29
    4. There are any number of tweaks to the system that will have to be made in order to have a fair trial under the Constitution. For example, how are we to provide the accused a fair jury of their peers? Do we need to import people from Saudi Arabia, Pakistan, and Afghanistan to find men like the accused? Also, wouldn’t a change of venue be in order? If I was the defense attorney I’d ask for one, and since I wouldn’t expect anyone in America (excepting those who write for the Huffington Post, but again, they aren’t rabid Islamicists, so not exactly peers) to feel less than outrage over the attacks, I would ask for the trial to be moved to Europe, or Pakistan or failing this, back to Gitmo. – 130
    5. Now we note, in passing, that these men haven’t had their Miranda rights read to them. -16
    6. Today I heard Obama arguing that we have had terrorists go through the criminal justice system before and bemoaning the ‘partisanship’ of those who have any objections. -27
    7. If insisting that trials be free, fair, and impartial makes me partisan, then so be it. -16
    8. In the race to be more civilized before the world by eschewing those horrid military tribunals, Obama seems hellbent on engaging in the same sort of ‘civilized’ fashion of the Soviets and any other tyrannical government putting on trials. It is a disgrace and unAmerican. Anyone who advocates for a show trial, even if they don’t give it that name, ought to be impeached. A rose by any other name is still a rose. -74
    9. I here leave aside all the concerns that can be raised about chain of evidence or the potential release of national security secrets concerning methodology, sources, etc, or the possible dropping of charges rather than have such a horror (or revise them weirdly, as in the case of Jose Padilla). -50
    10. We have military tribunals for a reason. They are tested by time, and the Supreme Court has said that they are certainly applicable in the case of these terrorists. -29
    11. But there is something, apparently, that makes them abhorrent to Holder and Obama; so much so, that they’d rather have a show trial. -23
    12. Despicable. -1

    Paragraphs 1, 6, 10, and 11 are summary or introductions and do not necessarily speak to either of our contentions. Between the four of them, they represent 104 words.

    Now comes paragraphs, 2, 3, 8, and 12 which I have thrown completely your way even though the first half of 2 strongly supports my point. For your contention as to my ‘main point’ we have 188 words.

    Now comes paragraphs 4, 5, 7, and 9. Paragraph 4, at 130 words, is the longest paragraph in the whole essay. Perhaps there is a plausible reason for that. Some day, you may discover it. At any rate, these paragraphs come out to 212 words.

    There are 504 words in the essay. 42% speak to the issue of civil rights under the constitution. 20% are introductory, summation. 37% represent what you think is my main point.

    Which number is bigger, Spence? 42 or 37?

    But of course I was really generous with paragraph 2. This section: “My jaw dropped when Holder and Obama began offering their justifications. They clearly thought that they were being reassuring but they made it much worse. For example, in response to the argument that going through the civilian courts… you know, giving the terrorists status under the Constitution of the United States…” is clearly setting the stage for MY MAIN ARGUMENT, speaking to what is indisputably an important emphasis in my post, and is 51 words we must deduct from your side.

    New total: 137 words addressing what YOU think is my main point and 263 words addressing what I say my main point is. 27% of the post supports your analysis of the main point and 52% supports mine. Which number is bigger I wonder?

    Well, we’ve now boiled it down to simple math. You may as well argue against the proposition that 2+2=4. Any fair reading will see that I devoted a significant amount of time towards the question of fairness and that the actual number exceeds the question of verdict. A reasonable inference from this is that I did have some qualms about ‘verdict’ (which I clarified in later comments) but my main area of objections had to do with due process, even indicating in paragraph 9 that I could have addressed it further.

    I can literally say no more.

  43. For the last time, it’s Mark, not Spencer. You seem to be incapable of sticking to the issue.

    You wrote:”I have in no place denied that I believe the final result will be the same and in this sense the ending is ‘rigged’ and certainly despicable. But what about the context? This time you say, “The [fairness of the trial] is certainly an important question.”

    Once again, the question of whether the trials can be fair is DISTINCT from the question of what Obama MEANT or INTENDED by his statement you quoted. Why don’t you get this? It’s one thing to say Obama is confident about a particular outcome of the trial, but it’s QUITE another to suggest he seeks to rig the trial in order to ensure a particular outcome.

    “A reasonable inference from this is that I did have some qualms about ‘verdict’ (which I clarified in later comments)”

    You clarified nothing, but you can start by explaining what you meant when you said you found Obama’s statement disturbing. If you’re *NOT* accusing him of wanting to rig the trial, then why did you find Obama’s statement objectionable? In what sense is he advocating a “Soviet Show Trial?”

  44. “huh, is it me or did you merely simply repeat what you have already repeated over and over again”

    No, you’re right – I have repeated what I have already repeated over and over again. When what one “repeats” is “repeatedly ignored,” what else is one to do? You (repeatedly) refuse to acknowledge the issue I’ve focused on, you (repeatedly) refuse to acknowledge the distinctions I’ve made (which made it necessary to repeat them), and you (repeatedly) refuse to address the questions I’ve asked (repeatedly) which WOULD clarify what you really mean to say when you said you found Obama’s statement disturbing. Hence, it’s not you at all: most of my latest posts have been an exercise in repetition.

  45. yea, you can really stop talking. I’m not reading your comments any more and refuse to waste any more of my time dealing with a person such as yourself. Til next time, ‘Mark.’

  46. You’re hopeless.

  47. Hello Anthony,
    I see you too have a very prolific commentor named Mark. How coincidental. Please don’t lose any sleep over any of this.
    The leftist tactic of jamming is explained, if I recall correctly, in David Kupelian’s book “The Marketing of Evil.”

  48. Hi Don,

    You probably saw a note from me speaking very disrespectfully of you and of Anthony. I have been duly chastened, reminded that when I treat with contempt the blog of someone else- who has editorial control- that my comment can be summarily deleted and one put in its place showing proper courtesy.

    I also understand that any future comments by myself that- in Anthony’s sole discretion- are out of bounds, I could find myself completely banned from his server altogether, leaving me gnashing my teeth in the lonely existence of believing that I am the sole arbiter of what is correct and right, but without anyone to lord it over.

    Sincerely, Mark

  49. That’s much better, Mark. Watch it in the future. I told you that I would have no problem banning your arrogant self faster than the glaciers are melting due to global warming. I can, and I will.

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